Physical activity beneficial in new-onset type 1 diabetes
medwireNews: Results of an observational study suggest that doing exercise around the time of type 1 diabetes diagnosis could extend the “honeymoon” period of low insulin requirement.
“We propose that exercise prolongs honeymoon through a combination of improving how the body responds to insulin and preserving the function of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas,” study lead Parth Narendran (University of Birmingham, UK) said in a press release.
As reported at the 2018 Diabetes UK Professional Conference in London, the researchers found that the length of the honeymoon period – defined as insulin dose-adjusted glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels of 9% of below – was approximately four times longer in the 17 patients who exercised regularly at the time of diabetes diagnosis than in the 34 patients matched by age, sex, and BMI who did not exercise, with mean durations of 28.1 versus 7.5 months.
Furthermore, one autoantibody-positive patient in the exercise group stopped insulin therapy and was in diabetes remission for 2 years.
Narendran acknowledged that the findings were based on small patient numbers and retrospectively collected data, and emphasized that they need to be tested in a prospective randomized controlled trial.
Discussing what the findings mean for patients, he stressed that “it doesn’t mean they can stop insulin if they exercise.” However, “if they can take up exercise, and continue long term, we will see these sorts of benefits,” he said.
Talking to medwireNews, study co-author Robert Andrews (Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, UK) said that one of the barriers to exercise for patients with type 1 diabetes “is not knowing how to adjust their insulin” during physical activity.
He explained that when healthcare providers are asked why they tell type 1 diabetes patients not to exercise, they say “I don’t know what advice to give the patients when they are exercising.”
And he believes that education is key to improving levels of physical activity in this patient group.
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